Free content added to Web pages using an HTML fragment is usually intended for Web sites. But why can't individuals also use it? It will be useful for them as well as promoting the Web site of the content provider.
There is a lot of free content available. You can get headlines, weather, search forms, jokes, cartoons, a word or quote of the day, tickers, and much more. For examples of free content available as HTML fragments, see Free Sticky (http://freesticky.com). Webmasters can paste the HTML into a page on their site, but what can an individual without a Web site do?
One approach is to have a simple HTML file on your machine that acts as a container of the free content. For example, see the Free Content Container (http://www.sugarloafsw.com/ia/freecc.html), a simple HTML file that already includes some free content and explains how to add or replace that content with content you like. You can just save it to your computer and then access it from your disk to create your own very simple information aggregator.
Go to http://www.sugarloafsw.com/ia/freecc.html. Click on Modify Me to see how you can modify the file. Save the file to your computer using File Save As from your browser being sure to use the "HTML file only" option. Edit the file with a text editor such as notepad and you will see that it is a simple table. HTML from free content Web sites can be simply pasted into the file at the places indicated by the comments.
Once you understand the basics of your container, you can do searches on the Web for "free content" and create different HTML files with different content. You can use this yourself or send the HTML file to friends as an email attachment and they can also use what you found from their computer, no need for a Web site.
Another approach is to get an information aggregator that supports HTML fragments. The HTML fragments can be placed on personal portal pages along with other content such as RSS feeds. See http://www.sugarloafsw.com/ia/ia.html for more on the use of information aggregators to allow individuals to use free content.
The final approach is to take the plunge and get your own Web site. There are several free options available, such as GeoCities (http://geocities.yahoo.com). You can add your modified Free Content Container to your site along with your other content.
Ron Tower is the President of Sugarloaf Software and is the developer of Personal Watchkeeper, an information aggregator supporting a variety of ways to summarize the Web.